Long gone are the days when getting his photo on the front of a cereal box was the best exposure an NFL player could receive off the field. The business of licensing and marketing the likenesses of professional sports stars has become incredibly sophisticated in a world of social media and increasingly broad licensed product categories. This is magnified when talking about the NFL, America’s most popular professional sports league.

The stars of the NFL are some of the most recognizable athletes in the world, and there are more ways than ever for fans to connect with their favorites. Making sure fans have those opportunities is the responsibility of NFL Players Inc., the licensing and marketing subsidiary of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA). According to Vice President of Licensing and Business Development Steven Scebelo, NFL Players Inc. has agreements with nearly 80 licensees who develop and market products featuring the likenesses of approximately 2,000 current NFL players. These products include apparel, trading cards, video games, collectibles and toys. 


The licensing arm of the National Basketball Association (NBA) is looking forward to another winning season. “We have expectations for another very successful year in terms of licensing and retail sales,” says Lisa Piken Koper, vice president of licensing. “The growing popularity of basketball and interest in the NBA globally continues to fuel our merchandise business.”

Founded in 1946, the National Basketball Association is a global sports and media business with offices in 13 markets worldwide, and games and programming in 215 countries and territories broadcast in 47 languages. 


When people think of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), they may think first of what is arguably the most high-profile players union in all of professional sports. What they may not realize, however, is the major role that licensing and marketing play in MLBPA’s operations. Simply put, the licensing and marketing aspects of MLBPA are key parts of its mission to best serve the rights of the players.

 “We look to protect and serve the players’ rights while we work to get product in front of the fans and the serve the functions of the organization,” says Evan Kaplan, director of licensing and business development.


As a renowned racecar driver turned successful auto designer and manufacturer, Carroll Shelby revolutionized high-performance auto designs both for the racetrack and for street vehicles for collectors.

Today, his logos grace products including die-cast cars, clothing, video games and golf carts – as well as automobiles. In fact, there are more than 150 Carroll Shelby licensees worldwide. 

“There are people out there who know the brand but cannot afford one of these cars,” says Ari Kopmar, executive vice president of consumer initiatives. “These products give people access to the brand and an opportunity to show their support. It shows their advocacy for the brand and the man. Carroll Shelby was a true American icon.”


No one ever wants a good thing to end. The series finale of a hit TV show or the neatly wrapped-up ending of an engaging film can leave a peculiar void in the hearts and minds of viewers who have come to know and even love the endearing – and sometimes frustrating – characters they see on the big and small screens. It’s the true testament of a great concept, and great concepts – unlike the 30-minute show or two-hour movie they have produced – can live forever in a way. 


Since the medium’s emergence in the late 1970s, video games have produced a handful of characters that can be called truly iconic. One of the most enduring characters to come out of video games has been SEGA’s Sonic the Hedgehog, who made his debut in 1991 and since then has been the star of dozens of games across numerous platforms, as well as multiple successful animated TV programs and several long-running comic book series. Like any iconic character, Sonic has gone through various evolutions over the years, and later this year SEGA Europe is overseeing his latest incarnation with the upcoming “Sonic Boom” television series. 


One of the top interactive entertainment companies for the mobile world, King Digital Entertainment has developed some of the leading franchises in the industry. Today, people from all around the world are playing one or more of its games. With more than 190 titles spanning across more than 200 countries, King continues to expand and enhance its gaming franchises while it is also looking to grow its licensing efforts.

Having been in the business for more than 10 years, King’s leading titles include Candy Crush Saga, Farm Heroes Saga, Papa Pear Saga, Pet Rescue Saga and Bubble Witch Saga. From its earliest days, King recognized mobile space as the right place to be. 

“People are comfortable on the move and want to stay connected,” Licensing Guru Claes Kalborg says. “We can reach out to a broader audience through our mission, which is to create engaging games with social features. If you look to the future, our goal is to be the leading entertainment company in the mobile world. We have the experience and resources to do that.”


Every day is Christmas at Character Arts as all of its brand management efforts are dedicated to the timeless story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. This year is even more special for the company as it launches new initiatives to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the television special’s premiere.

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